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Activities offer sanctuary experience at Riverside Recovery

November 2, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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Environments for Recovery
Photos courtesy Riverside Recovery

In selecting the location of their new substance use treatment facility, leaders at Riverside Recovery in Tampa, Fla., wanted to be situated not far from the “real world” of a city but still in a place where they could create a sanctuary experience for patients.

The 60,000-square-foot building along the Hillsborough River, formerly housing a psychiatric hospital and then a juvenile detention center, sits little more than a five-minute drive from downtown Tampa but offers a spa-like environment, says Ashley Janes, Riverside Recovery’s director of business development and admissions. Fishing and kayaking are among the recreational pursuits made possible because of the surrounding location. The center houses detox, residential and intensive outpatient services that have a foundation in the 12 Steps but integrate numerous therapeutic modalities (cognitive therapy, psychodrama, etc.) and recreational therapies.

“I don’t know if the patients even know how much value is coming out of the recreational therapies,” says Janes. “I think they just look at it as fun.”

One challenge that the facility administration inherited in selecting the location involves federal restrictions governing renovations in the riverfront area. Building improvements are occurring on a phased basis, with all of Riverside Recovery’s 15 detox and 51 residential beds currently located on the upper floor of the facility. By next year, there will be a total of 135 beds, says Janes. The treatment center opened in the Seminole Heights section of Tampa last summer.

Residential stays in the first few months of operation have averaged 30 to 45 days in the facility, which is out of network for commercial insurance patients.

Leaders have sought to create an environment of care that is closely monitored medically but is not hospital-like. “Peaceful” comes up often in Janes’ descriptions.

“We wanted the environment to feel very relaxing and home-like,” she says. To that end, floor tiles that resemble a wood surface were used, and soothing blue and gray tones predominate on the walls. All of the displayed artwork was commissioned and matches the riverfront atmosphere outside the facility, with an overall water and nature theme.

The facility includes a gym, and work is being done to complete a swimming pool. A fire pit and sand volleyball court are other areas for outdoor activity, as Riverside Recovery’s founders (all in recovery) are passionate about encouraging patients to learn how to have sober fun, Janes says. A staff recreational therapist coordinates that component of the program.

Unlike the treatment-saturated southeast corner of Florida, the Tampa area has had a relative dearth of addiction treatment facilities, making the opening of Riverside Recovery noteworthy from a business and clinical standpoint. “We have a really big opioid crisis here,” Janes says.